The central thrust of Bush’s argument last night for the war in Iraq was that “Iraq is the latest battlefield” in the war on terror. He stated the same case later in the speech: “Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate.”
The fact that Iraq has BECOME a terrorist training ground is true. It wasn’t one before the invasion of Iraq. And Bush admitted as much in November 2002. Before the war, Bush claimed we needed to attack Iraq to PREVENT it from becoming a terrorist training ground. Here’s what he said:
Imagine a terrorist network with Iraq as an arsenal and as a training ground, so that a Saddam Hussein could use his shadowy group of people to attack his enemy and leave no fingerprint behind. [Bush, 11/4/02]
We don’t have to imagine any longer. Bush’s miscalculations in his handling of Iraq have unified the terrorists and have allowed Iraqi territory to become the terrorist training ground that the extremists desired.
Time Magazine Reported the “goal” of the militants in a July 2004 article:
A “Time investigation of the insurgency today — based on meetings with insurgents, tribal leaders, religious clerics and U.S. intelligence officials — reveals that the militants are turning the resistance into an international jihadist movement. … Their goal now, say the militants interviewed, is broader than simply forcing the U.S. to leave. They want to transform Iraq into what Afghanistan was in the 1980s: a training ground for young jihadists who will form the next wave of recruits for al-Qaeda and like-minded groups.”
Nearly a year later and with little headway having been made against the insurgents, the CIA recently reported the results:
“A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda’s early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.”